Sometimes it’s the little things that inspire you to look into something: a film, a book, a video game. As was the case with Pewter Games Studios’ The Little Acre, an old-school adventure set in 1950s Ireland and starring a father with a daughter named Lily. With that being (one of) my own daughter’s nickname I took it as a sign. Now it’s time to find out if the universe steered me wrong.
The Little Acre functions as a point-and-click puzzler, and as such there’s little to go wrong with the controls. Approach an item you can interact with and one of three face button prompts will appear over it. Then simply push the corresponding button and you’ll either perform an action or be treated to some piece of information.
Certain objects will be added to your inventory when you do this, and the fourth face button is reserved for accessing these items. Once you’ve selected something from your inventory all objects with which you can attempt to use that item will appear as small dots. Choose the wrong one(s) and you’ll be given some version of “that won’t work,” but you won’t really fail sequences.
Visually, hand-drawn graphics give the game a bit of a Dragon’s Lair feel with the type of expressive moments that can only be provided by drawing them out. Both worlds are interesting to behold, though the completely bizarre Clonfira is the star with its colorful and unusual creatures, crumbling structures and alien vibe.
While not as memorable as the graphics, the audio side is solid. Voice acting from the main characters is pretty good, though Merr‘s speech pattern can be grating. There’s a quality soundtrack in place as well that matches the tone quite effectively.
As noted, The Little Acre takes place in Ireland during the 1950s. You open as Aidan, whose father, a serial inventor, has gone missing. A brief investigation around your property provides some clues to his possible whereabouts, though you’re still ill prepared when you enter a machine and get whisked away to the world of Clonfira.
From there you’re given control of Lily, who awakes to find both her father and grandfather gone and, being a precocious go getter, decides to strike out in search of them as well. It’s the start of a two-pronged adventure that will alternate between Aidan and Lily with the stories eventually converging for the finale.
It’s not a long story. In fact, there’s a trophy for completing it in less than hour, and you’re unlikely to need more than two to complete it the first time through. That’s a combination of not just a limited amount of content, but also how easy nearly all the puzzles are; you might get a bit turned around early on as to what the next step is, though that’s more ambiguity than complexity.
If you do happen to get stuck, the game features a hint system. Use it once and you’ll be given a general direction as to what you should try. Go back for a second time and the game will tell you point blank what your next step is. Should you decide to pick up The Little Acre, do not use that system. Minus those moments of trial and error you’ll be done with the game it no time flat.
Minus any real difficulty the story is left as the main attraction, but unlike games like Firewatch or Gone Home, the narrative isn’t strong enough to carry the weight. That isn’t to suggest it’s a bad story, it’s just that it lacks the serious tone or real air of mystery that propels those others forward. It’s almost too cartoonish for adults but also a little too dark for younger kids.
Buoyed by its unique presentation and a quality (although brief) story, The Little Acre is a fun two-hour trip; though you might be best served to pass at $12.99 and wait for the inevitable flash sale.